Skip to main content

Emirates Festival of Literature 2023

Earlier this month, Sarah McIntyre and I were lucky enough to be guests at the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai - our third visit. There’s nothing much I can add to Sarah’s account: she’s a good journalist as well as a great illustrator, so for details of what we did and all the lovely people we met, head on over to her blog. But here are a few photos I took during our stay.

One of the things I was talking about at the festival was my Railhead trilogy. I think I’d just finished the first book the first time I visited Dubai, and this extraordinary city had a big influence on the next two books. I’d sort of forgotten that, but returning was weirdly like stepping back into the world of Railhead. I really liked the architecture of the new Mohammed bin Rashid Library (the open-book-shaped building in the sunset view above). The library was a festival venue this year, and pecked with visitors when I was there to help Sarah with her Comics Workshop. But we had a nose round earlier in the week when it was much quieter, and looked like something from 2001, only with more pouffes.

Something I hadn’t forgotten was the warm welcome we always get from the festival’s tireless organisers and aLeo the people who attended our events - it’s lovely to talk to such eager, engaged audiences. This year the children’s events were all introduced by young hosts: here I am with Izabella Lebig, who compéred my Railhead session with immense charm and confidence. Anaya, who introduced our Roly Poly Flying Piny session later in the week, was just as good - I asked her if they teach public speaking in Emirati schools, but apparently not; it just comes naturally.

Oh, here’s a drawing Sarah made of me reading from Utterly Dark and the Face of the Deep… The people sitting behind her were very impressed (and so am I!)

Huge thanks to the Festival team for inviting me again, and to everyone who came to see our sessions. It really is a place where stories happen.


Popular posts from this blog

Lord of the Rings 7: Minas Tirith

'This is not a work which many adults will read through more than once,' claimed the historical novelist Alfred Duggan, reviewing The Lord of the Rings when it was published. But I've read it through LOADS of times and now I'm blogging my latest re-read, so what did he know? And so we come to Minas Tirith, Tower of Guard, citadel of Gondor, seven tiers of fancy white fortifications built against a buttress of Mount Mindolluin, with the Tower of Ecthelion rising a thousand feet above the plain. It seems to me the template on which a whole genre of knock-off fantasy cities has been based - I guess Robert E Howard and people wrote about such places before Tolkien, and perhaps there were cities of equal grandeur on Barsoom, but when concept art threads on Instagram throw up unlikely gold and marble castles built on mountaintops and over waterfalls they always look distinctly Minas Tirithy to me. I'm wondering now if London in Mortal Engines was subconsciously echoin

Thunder City

This September Scholastic will be publishing my new novel set in the world of Mortal Engines . Here’s the cover, created (like all the others in the series) by Ian McQue . The rule I set for myself when I was writing this one was that it shouldn’t feature any of the people or places from previous Mortal Engines books. So  Thunder Cit y takes place just over a century before the original book, when the town-eat-town world of Traction Cities is slightly less ruthless than it will become later, and none of the characters from the original quartet has even been born yet. (I suppose Mr Shrike must be bimbling about somewhere, but he’s still just yer basic implacable killing machine at this point so there’s not much point in paying him a visit). So hopefully this new take will be accessible to people who’ve never read Mortal Engines , and hopefully people who have read it will enjoy an adventure set in the same world. My pen and ink drawing of the Traction City of Thorbury,  after a painti

Railhead A-Z

In order to save my website it became necessary to destroy it. Before I pulled the plug I rescued the longest post on my old blog. Here it is, like the lone survivor of a shipwreck: my A-Z guide to the ideas behind my novel Railhead. At the time it was written, Railhead had just been published. I'll be putting up some posts about the sequels, Black Light Express and Station Zero , in the coming days. Railhead cover art by Ian McQue A  is for Alternative Forms of Transport ‘What I need,’ I thought, when I’d been struggling on and off for a few years with my space epic (working title, ‘Space Epic’) ‘is an alternative to spaceships…’ I’ve always enjoyed space stories. I first started reading science fiction back in 1977, when the original Star Wars film made me realise that outer space could be just as good a backdrop for fantasy as Tolkien-esque worlds of myth and legend. (Actually, I didn’t see Star Wars until 1978, but its bow-wave of publicity hit these shores the p